15 Fantastic Looking Dark GDM Themes

One of the coolest things about being a Linux user can be showing off your slick custom interface to your friends. With the maturing of Grub 2 and kernel mode setting, we’ll soon all have a beautiful boot from start to finish. The step we’re covering today is customizing GDM, the login manager you likely use if you’re running Ubuntu or any other system with Gnome as your desktop. Well those of you who don’t like the Ubuntu brown can brighten up because there’s no shortage of slick GDM themes available for download. Today, we’ll cover where to get them and how to use them.

For info on installing and using the following themes, see the bottom of this page.



Arch Dark




Black Ice








Aurora Black


Gnome Zen


Sleek Dragon




Pirates of Gnome


Mushroom Lake


Arch Darch




Installing Themes

Each of the titles above links to the theme’s download page, or if there’s no page, the theme file itself. All the themes (except DeSk) are tar.gz files and do not need to be extracted manually. In the case of DeSk, the tarball is there but it’s inside a ZIP. You save the tarballs into any directory you choose, and then open the Login Manager which will handle the rest. You can find that in Gnome under System > Administration > Login Window.


Use the Add button to pick your tarball, and you’ll see it show up in the panel to the left. You’ll see your new theme next time you login or switch user.

Joshua Price

Josh Price is a senior MakeTechEasier writer and owner of Rain Dog Software


    1. Captain Canuck: All that does is show the standard appearance properties window. There’s no option there to change the login theme, AFAIK.

  1. hey!

    love the selection, unfortunately, I do have to agree with Yonathan Amir, it seems to be impossible to do under Karmic, with the new Xsplash and all (which sucks, apart from being a little faster….so much lost!). GKsudo’ing it just gives you the standard appearance window, altought with the “root” theme.

    if you have any more idea on how to do it, it would be greatly appreciated. And while at it, if you can figure out how to restore the Xdhcp, been trying with the config file, but no luck!

    hope they go back to usplash next time.



  2. Hey,
    I am using Ubuntu 9.10. I don’t have the login window option in it. Do I have to go to startup manager and then add Usplash theme from there?

  3. Karmic users can downgrade their GDM to the previous release so all of this works again. I did that too because the inability to customize my login screen was disturbing me a lot.


  4. You *can* use these on Karmic by removing gdm-2.28 and replacing it with gdm-2.20.
    However it’s not a job for the faint-hearted. I managed to trash my X server in the process…

  5. Hi
    So this is a wind up then for most of us!
    Really nice themes but only if you have a computer degree in Linux(!)
    and are prepared to hose your system.

    I’m now convinced some of these site are run by Microsoft!

    Nice one guys


    1. Works on every distro other than a specific version of Ubuntu, and that version can (apparently) be safely downgraded.

  6. I followed Scorp123’s instructions… Five minutes later I was back to 2.20.

    Thanks Scorp

    1. Hey… I tried following scorps instructions too… but when i press ctrl+alt+f2… i get the black screen… but i cant type any thing in it.
      Did that happen for you ?

  7. So for the many ubuntu users out there who have a newer version of the OS, we can’t get any of this bling?

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